ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Andrew Cashner, holding a one-run lead, was on a roll going into the eighth inning, having retired seven straight and 13 of the last 14 batters he faced.
Then he hit Todd Frazier leading off the eighth with his 99th pitch of the game, and that was enough for manager Jeff Banister. He signaled for left-handed reliever Alex Claudio in a situation that ended up being the pivotal point in the Rangers' 3-1 loss to the Yankees on Saturday afternoon.
"Claudio ... has been so good for us all year long in that situation," Banister said. "We felt good about Claudio in that situation."
Claudio was entering the game to face left-handed hitter Greg Bird, although the Yankees immediately sent Matt Holliday to pinch-hit for their No. 9 hitter with the top of the lineup due next. The Rangers entered the inning knowing it would be batter-to-batter with Cashner.
"That was our plan," Banister said. "Cash was at close to 100 pitches … kind of where he was in the set and turn it over to the left-on-left situation. We knew we would probably get Holliday, but we still felt good about the matchup."
Holliday lined a single to right, moving Frazier to third. Claudio was able to get Brett Gardner on a foulout to catcher Brett Nicholas, but Chase Headley followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center to tie the game.
"Yeah, it was a tough day, you can say that," Claudio said after his third blown save. "I didn't do my job. I'll be ready next time."
Cashner, locked in a tough pitching duel with Yankees starter Luis Severino, put the blame on himself for letting Frazier get away rather than being pulled from the game.
"My job is to go out there and make pitches," Cashner said. "It's [Banister's] decision. Don't hit the leadoff guy, and I'd still be in there.
"I felt good. I felt like I could have kept going, but I thought Frazier was going to come out swinging. I tried to throw a sinker in there, white-line it, try to get him to roll over something. I wasn't trying to throw a strike, and it just sailed on me. Unfortunately, it hit him. I thought that I just got a little sideways with it. I was more upset with my mechanics on that pitch."
The Yankees ended up scoring two in the ninth off Claudio and Ricardo Rodriguez, and this marks just the fourth time in Cashner's past 11 starts that the Rangers have lost. He is 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP in those 11 starts despite not getting the win on Saturday.
"He just moved his fastball all over the place and has late movement on it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "At times, we hit a few balls hard but seemed to hit them at them. We just weren't able to square him up much. He kept us off balance going in, out, up, occasional breaking ball."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.